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Posts Tagged ‘league’

Playoffs: Lakewood Heimishe Bake Shoppe, Segwayz advance

Friday, June 1st, 2012

The playoff seedings are set, and tension is at a climax, heading into the All Star Israel Softball League post-season. The Wild Card round games will be played this weekend at Kraft Family Stadium, with the semifinals next weekend. The two teams to emerge will then play for the coveted Holyland Series Championship Trophy.

The top two seeds, Café Rimon and Bagelsbergs, e arned first round byes. For Rimon, the week off comes at the perfect time, giving star pitcher Yaacov Ehrlich a chance to recover from a minor injury.

In Ehrlich’s absence from the mound, reliever Yanky Itzkowitz filled in ably, earning two wins in two weeks, and allowing a total of only four runs. League observers have pegged Rimon as the championship favorite, after their recent 23-2 landslide win over Bagelsbergs clinched the top seed, and gave them a perfect undefeated record in the regular season.

Segwayz and Lakewood Heimishe Bake Shoppe earned the right to face each other in the Wild Card round, after successful regular season campaigns placed them in the 4th and 5th seeds, respectively. Each has reason to believe they can win it all, especially after evenly-matched meetings with the two top seeds. Lakewood was the only team to give Rimon a real nip-and-tuck dogfight, while Segwayz won a nailbiter over Bagelsbergs.

Perennial contenders Lobos are sitting pretty as the third seed, awaiting the result of the final regular season game between the Brooklyn Lightning and Jerrys’ Kids. A win for Brooklyn would advance them to face Lobos. Should Jerry’s Kids successfully play the spoiler, Torah Tidbits would land the final spot.

Israeli Football Team Loses First International Match

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Israel’s American football team took the field last Thursday in Petah Tikva, and lost its first international match by a score of 49-6 to Maranatha Baptist Bible College Crusaders from Watertown, Wis.

According to AP, Israel’s 10-team amateur league is gaining audience interest. Last year’s Israel Bowl attracted more than 1,000 fans and was broadcast live on an Israeli sports channel.

The Israeli league normally plays 8-a-side on a 60-yard field, but Thursday’s game was a regulation 11 versus 11 on a 100-yard field, which proved to be a challenge for the Israeli players.

Maranatha’s first touchdown came only 2 minutes after the opening whistle. Israel scored one touchdown, off a 76-yard pass in the second quarter.

Jackie Robinson: A Real Mensch

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I was lucky enough to have met and interviewed many Hall of Famers including Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams and Stan Musial.

I also had the chance to meet and gab with many of the stars from the old Negro Leagues who went on to play in the major leagues after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier – Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Satchel Paige. But I never had the chance to meet Jackie Robinson.

I did, though, meet Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s elegant, graceful widow.

From everything I’ve heard on the baseball beat, Jackie Robinson was a credit to his race – the human race. More important than being a great athlete and ballplayer, he was intelligent, articulate, and above all a great husband and father. He was, in short, a genuine mensch.

Robinson was only 53 when he died in 1972, old before his time, racked with diabetes and nearly blind.

This year baseball is celebrating the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier. It was April 15, 1947, when Robinson became the first openly black man to play in the major leagues.

Ebbets Field was a ballpark of small dimensions and limited seating capacity of some 32,000. Only 25,623 paid their way in to see Robinson’s debut on Opening Day in 1947, 4,000 less than the ’46 opener. But the Dodgers went on to set their all-time Brooklyn attendance record of 1.8 million in 1947.

The only black man in the majors excited fans that year by batting .297 with 12 home runs and 29 stolen bases, more than double anyone else.

Calling the games on radio that year for Brooklyn was Red Barber, a man steeped in the prejudices of his era and place of birth. Barber was born in Mississippi and moved with his family when he was 10 to central Florida.

“I saw black men tarred and feathered by the Ku Klux Klan…. I had grown up in a completely segregated world,” Barber recalled in his book 1947 – When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball.

Barber thought about quitting. After all, a Southern gentleman in 1947 couldn’t be expected to work for an organization that would treat a black man as an equal. But Robinson wasn’t an equal – he was superior to most ballplayers at the time, superior as a player and as a man.

Robinson went to college and starred at UCLA in basketball and football before serving in the army. He earned the rank of second lieutenant and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Hood, Texas, where white officers wouldn’t give him a chance to try out for the baseball team.

After being turned in by a bus driver to military police for refusing to sit in the rear seating area, Robinson faced a court martial for disobedience but eloquently won his case. After receiving an honorable discharge, and with the doors closed to blacks in many fields including professional baseball, Robinson joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues in 1945.

Fair-minded men at the time tried to promote the integration of blacks in baseball without success. Boston Jewish councilman Isidore Muchnick threatened to pass legislation to ban Sunday baseball in Boston unless the Red Sox granted a tryout to three Negro Leaguers.

A tryout was arranged for three players from different Negro League teams – Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethroe and Marvin Williams.

The tryout was originally scheduled for April 12, 1945, but that turned out to be the day President Roosevelt died. Vice President Truman was inaugurated as president and Roosevelt was buried in Hyde Park, New York, on Sunday, April 15. The day of FDR’s burial, British forces liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where 16-year-old Anne Frank died the previous month.

The following day, April 16, the three Negro Leaguers came to their Red Sox tryout at Fenway Park. Jackie Robinson was the most impressive of the tryout trio, prompting Red Sox manager Joe Cronin to tell Muchnick he hoped the team would sign Robinson. But the Red Sox never followed up and would become the last major league team to field a black player – some 14 years later.

Robinson went on to star for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 and attracted the attention of Brooklyn Dodgers boss Branch Rickey, who followed Robinson’s activities off the field as well. Rickey was convinced he had found the right man to break baseball’s unwritten color barrier and signed Robinson to a contract in early 1946 and assigned the infielder to the Dodgers’ top minor league club in Montreal.

Red Barber was also following Robinson’s progress. It was just a matter of time before Robinson would be up with the Dodgers and Barber was mulling over quitting.

“I didn’t quit,” Barber related in his book. “I made myself realize that I had no choice in the parents I was born to, no choice in the place of my birth or the time of it. I was born white just as a Negro was born black. I had been given a fortunate set of circumstances, none of which I had done anything to merit, and therefore I had best be careful about being puffed up over my color.”

Play Ball!

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

The 2012 baseball season should be a most interesting one.

Every game is important. No longer can a team just play for the Wild Card spot and have an equal shot with the three division winners at participating in the World Series (as St. Louis did last year).

This year, as you may know, there will be two Wild Card teams in each league fighting it out in a one game winner-take-all for the right to advance with the three division winners to the playoffs.

Every game means something as the Wild Card club with the most wins will have home field advantage for the one-game playoff. But teams will play hard to win their division as that will assure them of a postseason playoff spot. Plus, with a couple of extra days’ rest as the Wild Card clubs battle it out using their best pitchers, the three division winners will be resting their top starting pitchers.

In my opinion, the six top clubs among the 30 major league teams are the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.

In the American League, Detroit has the biggest advantage as they have by far the best team in the Central division. In the East, the Yankees have to contend with Boston, the great young pitching staff of Tampa Bay, and an improved Toronto team.

In the West, the Texas Rangers added the much-publicized pitching star from Japan Yu Darvish. However, the Rangers lost free agent pitcher C. J. Wilson to the Angels and the California club also added superstar Albert Pujols via a mega-contract his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, couldn’t match.

In the National League East, the Phillies will have to fight off young and talented Washington and Miami teams that could easily top Philadelphia if injuries to veteran players linger too long. And, of course, there are the always-contending Atlanta Braves.

In the N.L. Central, the Milwaukee Brewers lost free agent Prince Fielder to the Tigers and replaced his bat, somewhat, with free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Cubs. St. Louis is weaker without Pujols, and the Cubs and Houston Astros can only hope to win as many games as they lose. The Cincinnati Reds strengthened their pitching staff and have a potent lineup that should dominate the weakened division.

Out west, catcher Buster Posey is back from missing most of last season with a broken leg and should push the Giants higher. The Arizona Diamondbacks are capable of winning more than they lose; Colorado, while not as good, should be in the middle of the pack, while the southern California clubs battle it out to stay out of last place.

Here’s how I see the final standings:

American League East: New York Yankees; Boston Red Sox; Tampa Bay Rays; Toronto Blue Jays; Baltimore Orioles.

American League Central: Detroit Tigers; Minnesota Twins; Cleveland Indians; Kansas City Royals; Chicago White Sox.

American League West: Texas Rangers; Los Angeles Angels; Seattle Mariners; Oakland Athletics.

National League East: Philadelphia Phillies; Miami Marlins; Washington Nationals; Atlanta Braves; New York Mets.

National League Central: Cincinnati Reds; St. Louis Cardinals; Milwaukee Brewers; Pittsburgh Pirates; Houston Astros.

National League West: San Francisco Giants; Arizona Diamondbacks; Colorado Rockies; Los Angeles Dodgers; San Diego Padres.

As stated above, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami and Washington finish ahead of the injury-riddled Phillies. And, of course, injuries at the end of the season will play a major role in determining which teams advance to the World Series.

Enjoy the season, and as always, it’s nice to hear from Jewish Press readers.

Author, columnist and lecturer Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring while working in a major league front office position. Cohen, the president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net. His column appears the second week of each month.

German Federation Condemns Fans Who Hitler-Saluted Israeli Player

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The German soccer federation condemned an anti-Semitic act involving Kaiserslautern’s Israel striker Itay Shechter, 24, and says such abuse has to be “nipped in the bud” and “we must act decisively.”

Shechter was subjected to a verbal racist attack while training with his German league club on Sunday, when a group of between five and 10 fans in a crowd of at least 100 chanted anti-Semitic slogans and gave Nazi salutes.

Berlin’s Israeli Embassy condemned the insults.

The club’s official fan group has apologized for the situation. The club says fewer than 10 fans were involved and belonged to a hooligan group banned from games.

Shechter, who is on the DL at the moment, has so far scored three goals in 19 league appearances for Kaiserslautern, who are second from bottom of the league.

Sunday’s taunts came the day after his team’s 4-0 defeat by Mainz – their fourth straight loss – in which Shechter did not play.

It’s a known fact that Germans don’t take lightly to losing (see European history 1914-1945).

At Catcher… Myron Ginsberg

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Sixty years ago and fifty years ago. 1952 and 1962. They were memorable years for many of us.

In 1952 we – my parents, grandparents, brother and sister – lived in a lower three-bedroom flat on the west side of Detroit. Upstairs lived my best friends, the Carlebach boys, now superstars in the yeshiva world in Jerusalem. We played and attended many a ballgame together and spent time in front of my parents’ big television with the small black-and-white screen watching the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy.

We knew the names of the horses of all the television cowboys and the batting averages of many major leaguers. We also swapped baseball cards.

For youngsters like us, having a new brand of baseball cards to collect made 1952 unforgettable. The new Topps cards were a bit bigger and more colorful than the smaller Bowman cards we were used to from the previous year.

By the time yeshiva day camp rolled around in the summer, we were all collecting the Topps brand. The card that stood out for our class was number 192 of the 350-card set: Myron Ginsberg.

That didn’t sound like a ballplayer, it sounded like the accountant down the block who went to the Young Israel. Also, Ginsberg’s card showed him wearing a chest protector from his catching gear. Myron Ginsberg’s middle name was Nathan, but during his tenure with the Tigers the radio broadcasters and newspaper reporters all referred him as Joe.

Fast forward ten years.

The half-hour TV cowboy shows aimed at youngsters were long gone. In its place were hour-long adult westerns – “Gunsmoke,” “Rawhide,” “The Virginian,” “Wagon Train,” and my favorite at the time, Clint Walker in “Cheyenne.”

Joe Ginsberg’s 1952 Topps baseball card.

Also gone were the Jewish players who’d appeared in the first-ever Topps set ten years earlier – Cal Abrams, Sid Gordon, Saul Rogovin and Al Rosen.

Only one thing remained the same: Joe Ginsberg was still in the major leagues. Ginsberg dreideled around from Detroit, the city where he grew up and the team for whom he made his big league debut, to Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago (the White Sox) and Boston sandwiched between minor-league stops.

In 1962 Ginsberg was an original Met in the team’s inaugural season at the Polo Grounds under manager Casey Stengel. Ginsberg became the answer to a trivia question: Who was the first Met to take the field in the team’s home opener? (Hobie Landrith had been the catcher in the team’s Opening Day game in St. Louis.)

Ginsberg wasn’t a Met for long; after playing in two games and going hitless in five at-bats, he was released. He took his .241 career average back to Detroit and became a popular salesman for the Jack Daniels adult beverage company.

Having finished with my teen years when the Mets were born, I was also interested in the “real” news of 1962. As the Mets were losing most of their games, Adolf Eichmann was hanged on the last day in May at Israel’s Ramleh prison. As requested in his will, Eichmann’s body was cremated and the ashes scattered in the Mediterranean outside Israel’s waters.

Five days after the United States Supreme Court decided against the recital of prayer in public schools, Sandy Koufax pitched his first career no-hitter – against the New York Mets, naturally. Koufax started his June 30 gem by striking out the Mets on nine pitches in the first inning.

Anxiety reigned over the final weeks of the baseball season, and through the World Series won by the Yankees over the Giants, as reconnaissance photographs showed Russian missile sites in Cuba capable of housing missiles with a 2,000-mile range. President John F. Kennedy ordered a blockade of Soviet ships approaching Cuba.

During the long standoff between the world’s nuclear superpowers, air-raid drills were held in American cities, schools and offices. Finally, with the help of United Nations Secretary-General U Thant in what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles if the United States agreed not to invade Cuba.

With the Cuba crisis and World Series over, we went back to watching westerns.

 

Author, columnist and speaker Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring while working for a major league team. Cohen, the president of a Detroit area shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Fantasy Come True

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Seventy-eight degrees and sunny.

That’s what it was that Thursday afternoon in November when I arrived in Tampa, site of the Yankees Fantasy Camp.

After checking into the Sheraton Suites where the campers were staying for the Monday through Saturday camp, I shuttled to George M. Steinbrenner Field (where the Yanks play during spring training and also the home of the Tampa Yankees, three levels below the major leagues), to join the camp in progress.

I met with Julie Kremer, who juggles many balls in her roles as assistant general manager of the Tampa Yankees and director of the fantasy camp. I also met with Ira Jaskoll. He was a first-time camper last year and brought his own food.

Based on his experience, Jaskoll approached Julie K. with the idea of providing kosher food, designating a room in the hotel for Shabbat services and dining, and moving the big dream game from Saturday to Friday to accommodate future Orthodox campers.

Julie agreed and under her direction “the Rabbi,” as former Yankees players who coached and instructed Jaskoll last year affectionately call him, made all the necessary arrangements for the 2009 camp.

After catching up with Julie and Ira, it was time to partake in the on-field banquet and join the kosher campers. We took the table near second base and Jesse Barfield asked if he could join us. Barfield, an outfielder who played 12 big league seasons and spent 1989 through 1992 with the Yankees, led the American League in home runs with 40 in 1986 while playing for Toronto.

“Do you still do a lot of woodworking?” I asked Barfield. “How did you know that?” he responded. “Because,” I said, “while I was interviewing you about 25 years ago in the visiting clubhouse at Tiger Stadium, I asked you what you like to do when you have free time.”

“Wow,” Barfield exclaimed, “you’ve got a good memory.”

Former Yankees PR man Marty Appel was the guest speaker and spoke about Thurman Munson, the subject of his latest book. The next day was a bit more humid but still beautiful.

I watched the campers play Friday morning and lunched with the kosher guys and others in a picturesque outdoor pavilion between the stadium and practice fields.

A couple of the spouses of the six kosher campers flew in to be on hand for the big Friday game. Also on hand were Sharon and Jerry Volk, friends of the Jaskolls, there to root the rabbi on and enjoy the sun. Wives and children of other campers also came to enjoy the weekend.

It was a regular stadium atmosphere complete with the national anthem and the great voice of Yankee Stadium, Paul Olden. The campers, who got to dress in the same clubhouse the Yankees use during spring training and play on the same field, now heard themselves being introduced by the same voice on the public address system.

Some of the former Yankees who participated in the game were Barfield, Ron Blomberg, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, Al Downing, Tommy John, Phil Linz, Fritz Peterson, Mickey Rivers and Roy White.

Shabbat exceeded my expectations as the food was plentiful, the portions large, the company excellent and the speakers (Marty Appel, Ron Blomberg and yours truly) interesting. The camp ended on a real high with the closing Saturday night banquet. Awards named after former Yankee greats were given out to campers who excelled in several categories.

All the campers I talked with – kosher and otherwise – said they wanted to come back again. Several already were repeaters and one nice fellow from New York actually has been there for 22 consecutive camps. And listen to this – he’s been to both the November and January camps. That’s actually 44 in a row! And after experiencing a bit of it I can understand why.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/baseball-insider/fantasy-come-true/2011/11/14/

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